Venezuela to send drug kingpin to U.S. – source

CARACAS,  (Reuters) – Venezuela will extradite  one of the region’s most-wanted drug traffickers to the United  States today, a Venezuelan government source said.

Maximiliano Bonilla Orozco

Maximiliano Bonilla Orozco, a 39-year-old Colom-bian who had  a $5 million bounty on his head and was better known by his  alias Valenciano, was captured in the central Venezuelan city of  Valencia late last month.

His arrest had been announced by Venezuelan President Hugo  Chavez and his Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos, who  touted it as proof their ideologically-opposed governments were  united in the fight against organized crime.

He is accused of shipping tonnes of cocaine to the United  States with the help of Mexico’s feared Zetas cartel.

“The DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency) is coming to take  him to the United States,” a source at Venezuela’s Justice  Minister told Reuters on Wednesday.

According to U.S. authorities, Valenciano’s gang used a  network of warehouses and front companies producing legitimate  goods to mask the transport of illegal narcotics.

Venezuela’s government says it has greatly increased its  number of arrests of traffickers and its seizures of drugs since  it expelled DEA officials from the South American country in  2005, accusing them of spying.

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